Firm A: You win a major, high-profile case. The victory is covered by the legal press and mainstream media. The award to your client is huge, and the victory comes at the expense of a rival firm. Your only problem? Your client won’t pay you your millions in legal fees.
Firm B: You lose a major, high-profile case. Your well-known client gets rocked with a huge verdict, a rival firm is taking a victory lap all around town, and all you can do is tweet about the appeals process. But you are getting paid, and you expect to earn even more in fees as you plan your next move.
All else being equal, which firm would you rather work for?
If you chose Firm A, welcome to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. And good luck to you…
We all know that Orrick, representing Bratz, won a big victory over Quinn Emanuel, representing Barbie, in the long-running litigation between MGA and Mattel. Usually, when the client wins, the firm wins.
But in this case, can Orrick really be happy with out things turned out? From the National Law Journal:
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, which helped win an $88.5 million jury verdict for MGA Entertainment Inc. in a dispute over the rights to the highly profitable Bratz doll line, has asked for permission to fire its client in a related dispute on the ground that the company owes more than $1.2 million in attorney fees.
The firm filed a motion to withdraw from the second case on May 27, several days after its lawyers argued in California that MGA should be awarded $129 million in attorney fees after winning the verdict against Mattel Inc., maker of the Barbie doll. Mattel’s attorneys disputed that amount…
When Orrick suggested withdrawing from the case, MGA negotiated a monthly payment schedule. MGA paid for two months — November and December — but has not stuck to the schedule and now owes more than $1.2 million, Hurst wrote.
Orrick’s relationship with MGA will continue to sour, she wrote, because Pisoni had confirmed that Orrick would not serve as lead counsel in the New York matter should it go to trial. Orrick does not plan to handle an anticipated appeal of the Mattel matter, Hurst wrote.
Well, they can never take the good press away from Orrick, can they?
Meanwhile, Quinn Emanuel — a firm that is apparently still getting paid — never misses an opportunity to zealously advocate for its client:
One Mattel attorney, Susan Estrich, a partner at Los Angeles-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, filed a declaration in the case on June 1, citing Orrick’s withdrawal motion in the second case, which is pending in New York federal court.
In an interview, Estrich said Orrick’s move is relevant to the Mattel case because MGA’s request for fees could turn into a “windfall” for the company if it’s not paying its lawyers.
Well, readers, which side of the courtroom would you rather be on? The firm that is winning but can’t get paid, or the firm that lost all the way to the bank?
Take our reader poll below.
Orrick moves to withdraw from Bratz doll case over unpaid fees [National Law Journal]